MEDI 521 Annabel Lee
Professor Michele Knobel June 7, 2012



Fourth Grade Science Project: Bush Beans and Schoolyard Local Plants



Standards:

ISTE NETS for Students 1,2,3,4



IRA/NCTE Standards 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,12



Language arts skills

From Common core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects



L.3.1f. Ensure subject—verb and pronoun—antecedent agreement.

L.3.3a. Choose words and phrases for effect.

L.4.1f. Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.

L.4.3b. Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.

L.4.3b. Choose punctuation for effect.



2009 NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards – Science



5.1.4.A.1 Fundamental scientific concepts and principles and the links between them are more useful than discrete facts. CPI: Demonstrate understanding of the interrelationships among fundamental concepts in the physical, life, and Earth systems sciences.

5.1.4.B.2 Tools and technology are used to gather, analyze, and communicate results. CPI: Measure, gather, evaluate, and share evidence using tools and technologies.

5.1.4.B.4 Reasoning is used to support scientific conclusions. CPI: Communicate and justify explanations with reasonable and logical arguments.

5.3.4.A.2 Essential functions required for the well-being of an organism are carried out by specialized structures in plants and animals. CPI: Compare and contrast structures that have similar functions in various organisms, and explain how those functions may be carried out by structures that have different physical appearances.



Key Words:

Beans, wild plants, blogging, drawings using Glogster, dance, project-based science, time-lapse photography, observation journal, reflection journal, plant life stages, agricultural folk tales


Objectives:

Students will:

  • Use technology to identify plants, record plant growth, research plants, depict and chart plant growth stages, create a field guide
  • Work in groups to do research, discuss, and create science projects
  • Write independent observations, reflections, and imaginative stories about plants


Unit description:

During this science project students will explore the following essential questions:

What are the stages of plant life?

How can we use scientific knowledge to create imaginative fiction writing?

How do we identify local wild plants – what do we look for?

Can we write about local plants and cultivated bush beans?

What can we share about our culture of agriculture through our stories?

How do we take care of plants while they are growing?
What can we learn about the beans we grow?

During this six-week unit students will
  • grow bean plants,
  • observe their growth and record observations in writing and chart form,
  • use time-lapse photography to record plant growth
  • observe plants in the schoolyard,
  • research and write about these plants,
  • create an online field guide for the outdoor plants,
  • listen to and consider folk tales about agricultural subjects from the Native American and British traditions,
  • and write imaginative stories about plants using folk tales as models.
To supplement these activities there will be books read and discussed, a dance created that represents growth of the beans, blogging daily, Glogster posters produced, group discussions and research, and.

One of the key components in the unit concerns bush beans. Students will take dried beans, soak them, then plant bush beans in clear bags or cups. This indoor lab activity will include setting up the plants in the window of the room. The teacher will also set up some plants in other parts of the room for comparison. Students will be exploring how much water is beneficial, how much light is optimal, and other questions concerning the survival of plants. Plant height will be charted daily. Predictions about the growth of their plants will be made in online journal. There will detailed observations written in each student’s online blog observation journal: five written notes for each observation will be explicitly suggested, by the teacher. A daily time will be set aside for students to record these observations. A dedicated camera will be set up to record time-lapse photography of plant growth on the window. Groups will research and gather information about caring for plants. They will look up facts about soil, nutrients, temperature, light, and water. Student observations will take into account conditions of the classroom, how much they vary and how closely they match the best conditions recommended in facts they find. Whole class discussions about these subjects will be expanded on in turn-and-talk sessions between students.

Another key component in the unit concerns the wild plants that are growing in their natural habitat in the schoolyard. Students will observe and take digital photos of outdoor plants in the schoolyard and vicinity. These plants would be common plants such as clover, dandelions, chicory, and Queen Anne’s lace. They will compare these plants to the bush beans. Students will write detailed observations of outdoor plants, estimate where in growing cycle the plant is (young, mature, dying), describe circumstances where plant is growing (how much sun?, among other plants?), and other observations in online blog observation journal. They will use digital cameras and shoot photos of outdoor plants in nature and post on blog one day of each of weeks three, four, and five. Students will create a field guide for the plants in the schoolyard and include this field guide in the class’s online blog.

The plant components of the unit plan will be enhanced with videos and Glogster projects, as well as being expanded upon with online research and observation and reflection journal writing.

Another key component in the unit is the readings that the class will engage in. Eric Carle’s book Tiny Seed will be read aloud the first week and then a video for the book shown later in the unit. Jack and the Beanstalk and Native American stories about plants will be read aloud and explicitly discussed as models for the creative writing students will be expected to do. Length of that fiction project is not consequential, it is the nature of the story that matters (see rubric).

Special attention will be paid to telling the Native American legends with accuracy and respect.

Another component in the unit will be a group dance activity. This is an ungraded part of the unit. Having observed their bush bean plants growing, and having observed video footage of bean plants, they have become familiar with the types of movements the beans made, starting from the sprouting stage and ending up (as the six weeks are concluding) with fully formed leaves and flowers. Guided by the teacher, students will develop some of those movements, teach movements to each other, then each group will develop its own plant dance to enact plant growth in imaginative ways.




By using technology to create a blog, posters, the field guide, and other elements of the class online, parents will be able to enjoy the work done by the students.


Technology

Digital cameras (four or five for the students to use and share, one to be stationary, engaged in the time-lapse photography)

Laptops or iPads for every student

SmartBoard

Software:

Glogster
Google Blogger
iMovie

Resources

Carle, E. (1991). The Tiny Seed. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Steel, F.A. (1918). “Jack and the Beanstalk,” pp. 136-153 in English Fairy Tales. New York: The Macmillan Company. Accessed at http://books.google.com/books?id=eHwSAAAAYAAJ&printsec=titlepage#PPA136,M1

Video of The Tiny Seed accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqE3Kcc8Zgg

Green bean germination video from YouTube 1:08 minute:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJQyL-7KRmw&feature=related

Glogster tutorial:
http://screencast.com/t/5RXMUV5Jy

Time lapse footage of bush beans growing from seed from YouTube 30 seconds:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nRVZPJdXOo&feature=channel&list=UL

Interactive resource from Teachers Domain: From Seed to Plant:
http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/lsps07.sci.life.stru.seedplant/

Interactive resource from Teachers Domain: How Plants Respond to Environmental Cues:
http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/lsps07.sci.life.reg.plantmovies/

Resource from Teachers Domain: Germinating Seeds:
http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/tdc02.sci.life.stru.germinator/

Image of parts of a seed from Teachers Domain:
http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/tdc02.sci.life.stru.insideseed/

external image placeholder?w=320&h=240
photo courtesy window gardening from growinggreenies.blogspot.com



Supplementary resources for educators

Broda, H. W. (2011). Moving the classroom outdoors: Schoolyard-enhanced learning in action. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.




Bruchac, J., & Caduto, M. (1989) Teachers’ guide: Keepers of the earth. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing.

National Science Digital Library accessed at http://nsdl.org/resources_for/k12_teachers.

Young, J., Haas, E., & McGown, E. (2010). Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. Shelton, Washington: OWLink Media.


Other materials:

  • One small paper plate per student for seed starting
  • One piece of paper towel per student for seed starting
  • One transparent bag per student for planting germinated seed (or transparent cup) with student’s name on it
  • Two beans per student (start as a few beans for sprouting then select two sprouted beans – the teacher will take some of the rejected beans to plant in bags or cups and place out of the way of sunlight and to use as experiments about watering)
  • Water spray bottle
  • Watering can


Activities:

Summary of daily activities during the unit/ Core Routines:
(Note: these activities are not repeated in each week’s plan below)
  • During sprouting phase spray beans with water a couple of times a day
  • During growing phase water plants and spray with water
  • Write observations in online blog
  • During growing phase chart plant growth on blog
  • Teacher will offer feedback on observation journals on a regular basis: online and verbally
  • Students shot photographs of their bean plant (day one they shoot a portrait photo for the class photo library named by student, then each following day shoot a photo with their name and day number – 30 days in unit so on day 15, for example, a student named Cecelia would have Cecelia 15)

WEEK ONE:

Whole class read-aloud: “Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle to introduce lesson.

Use resource from Teacher’s Domain “Germinating Seeds”

Online component:
Set up online blog
Each student has a page
One common page for class
Teacher page where lessons are explicitly defined for benefit of students and parents
Parents have access to this blog

Begin sprouting of bush beans:
Each student has several bush beans
Each student puts beans between folded paper towel on paper plate and sprays with water spray bottle until sufficiently damp

Use image of parts of a plant from Teacher’s Domain (in resources)

No outdoor component week one

Groups are defined and teacher discusses the nature of collaboration: productive conversations, asking open-ended questions, exploring resources together, sharing a joint database (such as photo database)

When beans are sprouted, each student plants 2 seeds in bags and puts the bags in the window

Teacher uses some of the leftover sprouted beans and puts these in bags in soil and puts in dark places around the room

Video component:
Set up time lapse video for seeds
Then when planted in bags set up time lapse video for plants

Teacher is explicit about instructions for observations:
5 observations each day including for example weather that day, colors of plant and parts of plant, name parts of plant, color, light, shape of plant

WEEK TWO


Outdoor component:
Entire class goes out into schoolyard to look at plants that are growing
When class comes inside class writes individual observations in observations journal.
Groups look up words for descriptions of plants.
Class as groups (4 or 6 students per group) looks up plants they saw outside the class; discussion of what plants they might be

Indoor component:
Continue to water and spray bean plants
Talk about needs of plants: light, should they be turned so leaves face light or face away from light? Water: too much or too little water? Sun: how are plants in the dark doing?

Teacher tells a story about beans from Joe Bruchac and Michael Caputo book and presents the story in the context of the living culture of the Lenape people who have survived and are not living on their land anymore because they were displaced from the lands where they originally lived and now live on reservations in many parts of the U.S. They were originally from this region and their tradition honors the three sisters: corn, beans and squash. Source material on corn, beans and squash are researched by students and teacher reads material from the Teacher’s Guide written by Bruchac and Caputo.

Class uses interactive resource from Teacher’s Domain “How Plants Respond to Environmental Cues”

Watch video of The Tiny Seed

WEEK THREE

Use digital cameras and shoot photos of outdoor wild plants and post on blog

Watch video of time lapse seed sprouting and plant growth

Outdoor component:
Class goes outside with digital cameras to photograph plants discussed

Students are introduced to Glogster with the tutorial created for this unit plan.
Students use Glogster to draw the stages of life of a plant with labels for stages
Students use Glogster to draw the parts of a plant with labels

Students access pages of 1918 classic publication of Jack and the Beanstalk and teacher reads the story and teacher associates the bean as a symbol of fertility as a prompt for class discussion.

Class uses interactive resource from Teacher’s Domain “From Seed to Plant”


WEEK FOUR

Use digital cameras and shoot photos of outdoor wild plants and post on blog

Students revisit their “parts of a plant” Glogster drawings and the Spanish-speaking students in the class research and contribute the Spanish vocabulary that applies to the labels on students’ drawings.

Students use photos taken outdoors during week 3 to begin to create “Field Guide to Abe Lincoln School.”

Students continue online research about identification of outdoor plants for the field guide and begin to write collaborative captions for the photographs.

Students go outside and take more photos and do more observations taking notes on handheld devices while outside. Observations added to observation journal on personal blogs.

Groups visit other groups’ field guides and make suggestions – done as an activity where groups move from one group’s table to the next and at each one write written comments on the document. This is followed by class discussion of the various field guides that are being produced.

Students begin draft of reflective journal piece.

Students draw on Glogster parts of a plant with labels.

WEEK FIVE

Use digital cameras and shoot photos of outdoor wild plants and post on blog

Students continue online research about identification of outdoor plants for the field guide and begin to write collaborative captions for the photographs.

Students use photos from outdoors and indoors to create posters about plants

One-on-one teacher conferences with each student on reflective journal piece

WEEK 6

Pull together 6 weeks of observations one day of final week of unit

Review online observation blogs

Reflective journal piece completed

Students finalize online research about identification of outdoor plants for the field guide and complete writing of collaborative captions for the photographs.

Students download time-lapse footage and view it on SmartBoard. Class uses iMovie to do some editing and add titles at beginning and end – a movie is created

Print out and put up posters

Send students home with bean plants

A movement class is guided by the teacher where students will develop dance movements to enact stages in plant development. Then there is an activity where groups develop their own dances and perform them for each other.





Assessment







Excellent: 4 points
Good: 3 points
Needs improvement: 2 points
Unsatisfactory: 1 point
No credit: 0
Contribution to Field Guide
Collaborated well with group, contributed valuable information
Collaborated adequately with group, contributed some information
Collaborated with group in a less than adequate way, did little research and contributed little information
Collaborated poorly with group, contributed little or no information
Unwilling to collaborate with group, may have been disruptive to group, contributed no information
Dry Bean and Germination
All 5 observations are filled out. Student has written multiple sentences for each observation. Student's observations contain descriptive words. Drawing of student bean is detailed and reflects diligent work.
All 5 observations are filled out. Student has written one sentence for each observation. Student's observations contain descriptive words. Drawing of student bean is detailed and reflects diligent work.
All 5 observations are filled out. Student's observations contain descriptive words. Drawing of student bean is detailed and reflects diligent work.
All 5 observations are filled out. Student's observations contain one word responses. Drawing of student bean is detailed and reflects diligent work.
Four or less observations are filled out. Student's observations are one or two words responses. Drawing of student bean lacks detail and does not reflect diligent work.
Participation
Used time well and focused attention on the work. Student has fully participated each day, and has had no behavioral problems.
Used time pretty well. Stayed focused on the work most of the time. Student has participated well on most days and has had few behavioral problems.
Did the work but did not appear very interested. Focus was lost on several occasions. Student has had some behavioral problems.
Participation was minimal or student was hostile about participating and has had some behavioral problems.
Student has not participated and had behavior problems.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
One or fewer errors in spelling, punctuation and/or grammar in most blog entries.
Two or three errors in spelling, punctuation and/or grammar in most blog entries
Four errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar in most blog entries
More than four errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar in most blog entries.
Extensive spelling, punctuation and grammar errors in blog entries.
Drawings/
Diagrams
Clear, accurate drawings and diagrams are included. Diagrams are labeled neatly and accurately.
Drawings and diagrams are included and are labeled neatly and accurately.
Drawings and diagrams are included and are labeled.
Needed drawings and diagrams are missing or are missing important labels.
Student has not made drawings or diagrams.
Workload in Group Activities -- all members of group receive same grade
The workload is divided and shared equally by all team members.
The workload is divided and shared fairly by all team members, though workloads may vary from person to person.
The workload was divided, but one person in the group is viewed as not doing his/her fair share of the work.
The workload was not divided or several people in the group are viewed as not doing their fair share of the work.
The group dynamic failed and group had to be disbanded or did not complete required work.
Ideas
Student contributes ideas and asks questions to encourage further learning to occur.
Student sometimes contributes ideas and/or asks questions to encourage further learning to occur.
Student contributes ideas and/or ask questions to encourage further learning to occur.
Student does not communicate ideas well and does not participate well in discussion that will lead to further learning.
Student does not contribute any ideas.
Individual- Observation Notes in Online Blog
The student took appropriate notes explaining what he/she learned from each day’s activities and included at least 3 facts. Clear, accurate, dated notes are taken regularly.
The student took some notes explaining what he/she learned from each day’s activities and included 1 or 2 facts. Dated, clear, accurate notes are taken occasionally.
The student took notes about what he/she learned from activities most days. Dated, notes are taken occasionally, but accuracy of notes might be questionable.
The student did not have complete notes, notes rarely taken or of little use.
Student did not take notes.
Individual- Journal Reflection
The student took what he/she learned from the project and applied it to writing a thorough explanation of the factors that affect plant growth.
The student took what he/she learned from the project and applied it to writing a general explanation of the factors that affect plant growth.
The student took what he/she learned from the project and applied it to writing an explanation of the factors that affect plant growth. However, the explanation felt incomplete.
The student did not write a reflection or the reflection the student wrote did not make sense.
Student did not complete the work.
Planting
The student completed the entire project, following the directions of planting with 100% accuracy and took part in the discussion.
The student took part in the project, however, did not discuss or needed to be prompted a few times during the lesson.
The student only took part in about 50% of the project and the discussion; they needed to be guided and told to get back on track often.
The student had to be prodded to participate in the project or the discussion and did so reluctantly and very little.
Student did not participate
Observing Windowsill Plant
The student completed the entire project, following the directions of observing with 100% accuracy and took part in the discussion over the span of a few days.

Detailed and in-depth description of the changes that plants undergo in a complete life cycle. All 5 observations are filled out. Student's observations contain descriptive words. Student has written multiple sentences for each observation. Student's observations of daily plant height are charted and predictions are precise and reflect an educated guess.
The student took part in the project, however, did not discuss or needed to be prompted a few times during the unit. Described all of the changes that plants undergo in a complete life cycle. Five or fewer observations are filled out. Student has written one sentence for each observation. Student's observations contain descriptive words. Daily plant height is charted and predictions are somewhat precise and reflect an educated guess.
The student only took part in about 50% of the project and the discussion of observations; they needed to be guided and told to get back on track often. Describe some of the changes that plants undergo in a life cycle. Five or fewer observations are filled out. Student's observations contain descriptive words. Daily plant height is charted and predictions are somewhat precise and reflect an educated guess.
The student did not participate in the project or the discussions. Did not describe the changes that plants undergo in a complete life cycle. Five or fewer observations are filled out. Student's observations contain one word responses. Daily plant height has not been charted and predictions have not been made.
Student did not complete the work. Four or less observa-tions are filled out. Student's observations are one or two words responses. Daily plant height and predictions have not been charted.
Parts of Plant, Plant Features, and Functions
Student identifies the parts of the plant (leaves, stem, root, and flower) independently and could describe their functions in great detail. Includes a complete, detailed explanation of how different features of plants help them survive.
Student identifies the parts of the plant (leaves, stem, root, and flower) with a physical or verbal prompt and could describe their functions. Includes a well written explanation of how different features of plants help them survive.
Student identifies some of the parts of the plant (leaves, stem, root, and flower) with a model and could describe some functions. Includes a brief explanation of how different features of plants help them survive.
Student attempts to identify major parts of the plant and with difficulty, unable to describe their basic functions. No explanation of how different features of plants help them survive.
Student has not completed this work.
Needs of a Plant
Student identifies the needs of a plant (sunlight, soil, water) with a physical prompt.
Student identifies the needs of a plant (sunlight, soil, water) with a model.
Student identifies the needs of a plant (sunlight, soil, water) with a verbal prompt.
Student identifies the needs of a plant (sunlight, soil, water) indepen-dently.
Student has not completed any work.
Sources
Source information collected for all graphics, facts and quotes. All documented in desired format. Good use of graphics
Source information collected for all graphics, facts and quotes. Most documented in desired format. Adequate use of graphics
Source information collected for graphics, facts and quotes, but not documented in desired format. Some use of graphics
Very little or no source information was collected. Little use of graphics
No sources used, no graphics used
Creative Writing: Imaginative “legend” story
Assignment completed on time and contains original ideas and is a quality piece of writing
Assignment is completed on time and is not very original and the student worked hard
Assignment is not completed on time, writing contains original ideas and is a quality piece of writing
Assignment is not completed on time, is not very original, however some effort was made
Assign-ment is not completed on time and little or no effort was made
Contributions
Routinely provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A definite leader who contributes a lot of effort.
Usually provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A strong group member who tries hard!
Sometimes provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A satisfactory group member who does what is required.
Rarely provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. May refuse to participate.
Student has not completed any work.
Quality of Work
Provides work of the highest quality.
Provides high quality work.
Provides work that occasionally needs to be checked/
redone by other group members to ensure quality.
Provides work that usually needs to be checked/
redone by others to ensure quality.
Student has not completed any work.
Focus on the task
Consistently stays focused on the task and what needs to be done. Very self-directed.
Focuses on the task and what needs to be done most of the time. Other group members can count on this person.
Focuses on the task and what needs to be done some of the time. Other group members must sometimes nag, prod, and remind to keep this person on-task.
Rarely focuses on the task and what needs to be done. Lets others do the work.
Student has not completed any work.
Working with Others
Almost always listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. Tries to keep people working well together.
Usually listens to, shares, with, and supports the efforts of others. Does not cause "waves" in the group.
Often listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others, but sometimes is not a good team member.
Rarely listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. Often is not a good team player.
Student has not completed any work.
Time-management
Routinely uses time well throughout the project to ensure things get done on time. Group does not have to adjust deadlines or work responsibilities because of this person's procras-tination.
Usually uses time well throughout the project, but may have procras-tinated. Group does not have to adjust deadlines or work responsibilities because of this person's procras-tination.
Tends to procrastinate, but always gets things done by the deadlines. Group does not have to adjust deadlines or work response-bilities because of this person's procras-tination.
Rarely gets things done by the deadlines and group has to adjust deadlines or work responsibilities because of this person's inadequate time management.
Student procras-tinated and did not complete work.
Attitude/
Character
Never is publicly critical of the project or the work of others. Always has a positive attitude about the task(s).
Rarely is publicly critical of the project or the work of others. Often has a positive attitude about the task(s).
Occasionally is publicly critical of the project or the work of other members of the group. Usually has a positive attitude about the task(s).
Often is publicly critical of the project or the work of other members of the group. Often has a negative attitude about the task(s).










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Rationale

This is a six-week unit plan of active, intentional learning. The unit combines science projects with language arts and literacy skills and includes art, dance, and technology. In research into project-based learning, Marx et al. (1997) found that most teachers prefer projects that take about six to eight weeks to complete. The fourth graders in this group would have previously become used to read-alouds, blogging, the uploading of digital images, some writing skills which this unit aims to improve, and more. This unit plan gives students the opportunity to focus on various forms of writing – imaginative writing, observations, and reflective writing – and teaches them about plant growth and plant identification. During the unit plan students will answer some basic questions about identifying plants including flower type (symmetrical or non-symetrical), branch pattern (opposite pattern or whorled pattern or alternate pattern), and leaf type (entire or leaf-lets, smooth or serrated, shape) (Young, Haas, & McGown, 2010,(p. 155).



At this formative age it is important to help children develop more positive environmental attitudes toward natural settings (Cronin-Jones, 2000, p. 207). Joanne Silverstein (2005) found that elementary school students could develop an interest in pursuing a science-based career as early as fourth grade (p. 228). “During the elementary school years, students' curiosity is more influenced by school curricula than it will be in later years.” (Silverstein, 2005, page 236). Students receiving outdoor schoolyard instruction develop significantly more positive attitudes toward the environment than students receiving traditional classroom instruction (Cronin-Jones, 2000, p. 207). In addition, those positive hands-on activities that allow direct experience with living organisms exert an even stronger influence on knowledge than attitudes (Cronin-Jones, 2000, p. 207). What is particularly significant to this lesson plan is that it has been found that elementary students learn significantly more about science topics through outdoor schoolyard experiences than through traditional classroom experiences (Cronin-Jones, 2000, p. 207).

Teaching both science and language arts is critical for teachers to meet curriculum standards. However, in my opinion, teaching in general is critical to imparting values of human behavior and respect for life on earth as well. Science lessons give teachers an opportunity to bring students in touch with nature and the value of life and to aid in their moral development. Language arts, and particularly writing exercises, give teachers the opportunity to help students develop their values through observational writing and reflective writing. When creative writing takes a role in a lesson that is otherwise fact based, students have the opportunity to draw connections between their observations, their experiences and ideas in their imaginations.

Marx et al. (1997) concluded that what students learn is influenced by social interaction and that learning is enhanced by talking and collaborating with others (p. 343). Collaboration gives students the opportunity to share ideas, broaden their thinking about subjects, draw on the expertise of the other students, and experience a productive process of thinking intelligently (Marx et al., 1997, pp. 345-346). The vocabularies associated with the school subjects, in this case the words connected with plant growth, are specific. Students learn these vocabularies , are made familiar with the bodies of knowledge the words come from, and learn rules of gathering evidence and evaluating results of their science projects successfully when collaborating with other students (Marx et al., 1997, p. 343).

There are many reasons to bring technology into a unit plan such as this one. One reason is that free images, digital cameras, and other aspects of the digital world are increasingly available (Knobel & Lankshear, 2010, p. 10) therefore teachers will do well to take advantage of these useful resources. And although media cannot replace hands-on learning, it can strengthen learning in any STEM classroom (Quinones, 2010, p. 28). Technological tools enable more authentic investigations while they support deep understanding and learning in ways that are not possible using pen and paper according to the research conducted by Marx et al. (1997, p. 346). Media can be a powerful tool that sparks curiosity, promotes scientific inquiry and critical thinking, and helps students make connections between their experiences and the content to be learned (Quinones, 2010, p. 28). The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Program is a great starting point for science teachers to locate science curriculum resources in a variety of format including images, video, audio, animations, interactive resources, and more (Perrault, 2010, p. 66). As William Leonard (2003) pointed out, use of digital camera is consistent with the recommendations of the National Science Education Standards (1996) and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993) (p. 210). Leonard (2003) found that digital images in science units can provide fuller experiences for students than traditional observations (p. 210). Leonard (2003) recommends having four or five digital cameras for a class because images can be taken and then quickly downloaded, thus it is not necessary to have a camera for every student and cameras can be shared between groups (p. 213).

This unit plan was created with the awareness that students with learning disabilities may struggle to express ideas in writing or to organize what they want to communicate (Perrault, 2010, p. 67) This is addressed with the range of technological tools available because, for many students with disabilities, use of digital resources can break down barriers and facilitate learning (Perrault, 2010, p. 64).Adaptation to students whose first language is Spanish is made in the unit plan: in the field guide, they can write the Spanish vocabulary that corresponds to the English words and make it a bilingual field guide; in group work, they can share the corresponding vocabulary in Spanish; on diagrams of parts of plants they can include both Spanish and English vocabulary.



Social and environmental ethics are implicitly linked and can be developed in children during their formative years through exposure to the natural world. I believe that when children learn respect for other beings, besides human beings, their sense of justice and fairness will be strengthened. Care for plants in this unit can help develop a greater ability to be compassionate. The responsibility of each child for his or her plant, the care that the children give to their plants, and the stewardship role assumed by the students in taking on this project are important in their maturing process and are an aid in their moral development. Carol Gilligan (1982) wrote:
In the different voice of women lies the truth of an ethic of care, the tie between relationship and responsibility, and the origin of aggression in the failure of connection. Women’s development delineates the path not only to a less violent life, but to a maturity realized through interdependence and taking care (pp. 172-173)

The use of old legends, Native American and from the British Isles, that use plants as central subjects, not only contributes to the literary aspect of this unit plan, it also contributes to the moral education that is implicit in this caring and nurturing activity. “Indian stories and earth activities involve values and moral issues as well as knowledge because they teach about life – about human relationships and about interactions between people and our environments.” (Bruchac & Caputo, 1989, p. 6). In order to maintain a respectful attitude toward the Native American culture that is visited through their oral literature, as in the Bruchac and Caputo book collection of stories, Keepers of the Earth, “emphasis is placed on how the stories arose from … particular North American peoples and ecosystems, to answer questions about how and where the cultures existed… How past and present contact with European-based cultures has affected Native Americans and their continuing struggle for survival in North America today also are examined” Bruchac & Caputo, 1989, p. 1). Thus, of necessity, traditional stories are placed in the context of their Native American cultures, past and present (Bruchac & Caputo, 1989, p. 1). “The experiential study of Indian stories and earth activities, related to the study of our present social and environmental problems and potentials, is effective in helping children to understand and appreciate nature and to live in a supportive and caring relationship with the earth and other people.” Bruchac & Caputo, 1989, p. 5).

As Susan Smulyan (2011) asks, “How do pedagogy, and relationships within the classroom, change when students and teacher have access to the same materials?” (p. 78) Because a digital archive of information removes any claims of expertise on the part of a teacher or anyone else claiming to be the authority with regard to a project (Smulyan, 2011, p. 78). Teachers can acquaint learners with new ideas and cultural tools and support and guide students as they make sense of these while leaving the responsibility for individual learning up to the students themselves (Marx et al., 1997, p. 343).

The indicators of awareness for this unit plan are what the students are going to use and what the students are going to learn. What they will use includes technology, books, seeds, the soil, the environment outside the school building, storytelling techniques, writing skills, choreography, care in handling of plants, research skills, attention to condition of indoor and outdoor plants, and collaborative skills. What they will learn is improved writing skills, facts about plant growth, links between agriculture traditions and literature, greater facility with many technological tools, how to keep a journal of observations, how to work collaboratively in better ways, greater compassion for living things including plants, how to identify parts of a plant, facts about the great variety of plants that exist in nature, and more.



References

Bruchac, J., & Caduto, M. (1989) Teachers’ guide: Keepers of the earth. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing.

Cronin-Jones, L. (2000). The effectiveness of schoolyards as sites for elementary science instruction. School Science and Mathematics, 100(4), 203-211.

Gillian, C. (1982). In a different voice. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2010). DIY media: Creating, sharing and learning with new technologies. New York: Peter Lang.

Leonard, W. H. (2003). Using the digital camera as a classroom data collector. The American Biology Teacher, 65(3), 210-215.

Marx, R., Blumenfeld, P.C., Krajcik, J.S., and Soloway, E. (1997). Enacting project-based science. The Elementary School Journal, 97(4), pp. 341-358.

Perrault, A. M. (2010). Making science learning available & accessible to all learners: Leveraging digital library resources. Knowledge Quest, 39(2), 64-68.

Quinones, D. (2010). Teachers domain: Digital media (including video!) resources for the stem classroom and collection. Knowledge Quest, 39(2), 28-32.

Silverstein, J. (2005). Just curious: Childrens use of digital reference for unimposed queries and its importance in informal education. Library Trends, 54(2), 228-244.

Smulyan, S. (2011). PERRY IN JAPAN: A transnational, digital, and pedagogical project. Transformations, 22(1), 69-79,145-146.

Young, J., Haas, E., & McGown, E. (2010). Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. Shelton, Washington: OWLink Media.